Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Co-creator of characters like Captain America and Hulk gets biography in HQ

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“Everything in my neighborhood was gray and dirty. The colors didn’t arrive until Sunday.” This is how comic book artist Tom Scioli describes the harsh childhood of Jack Kirby, co-creator of characters such as Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Fantastic Four and X-Men in the comic biography that arrives in Brazil by Conrad. Born Jacob Kurtzberg, the illustrator Jack Kirby (1917-1994) was one of the main responsible for the creation of the so-called Marvel Universe and also relevant in the rival publisher, DC Comics.

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In Jack Kirby: The Epic Biography of the King of Comics, Scioli runs through the author’s life using the first-person narration feature, which may sound far-fetched, but brings the biographer closer to the reader. It is through this intimate lens that childish fascination with characters from Hal Foster and Alex Raymond, such as Prince Brave and Flash Gordon, that would influence him throughout his career, as well as the vunder-meyses told by his mother, folk stories and mythological figures from Galicia, a region of the Austro-Hungarian empire, from where their Jewish parents emigrated to the United States.

Scioli, however, also reveals his dark side: Kirby was heated, impulsive and quarrelsome. He took part in wars between youth gangs in his neighborhood and even went so far as to enter the life of crime, as some of his friends did – at the time, he lived in the cinema, but only identified with gangster films. What saved him from a likely early death was the design.

As a teenager, Kirby worked as an animator in the studio of Max Fleischer (author of Popeye and other characters) and later for Horace T. Elmo, when he exercised his versatility by making strips of sailors and gypsies to fictions about time travel. He learned to meet deadlines at Will Eisner and Jerry Iger’s studio where he worked shoulder to shoulder with fellow Bob Kane (co-creator of Batman) and Lou Fine (one of The Spirit’s artists).

The end of the 1930s was a turning point in his career: in 1938, Superman first appeared on the pages of the inaugural edition of Action Comics, bringing together the elements of science fiction and pulp literature that enchanted Kirby, but fighting problems from the real world, like corrupt politicians and organized crime, which he knew well.

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Co-creator of characters like Captain America and Hulk gets biography in HQ